Congress ‘crippled’: Access to funds crucial to level electoral field - The Tribune India

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Congress ‘crippled’

Access to funds crucial to level electoral field

Congress ‘crippled’

THE controversy over the freezing of the Congress’ bank accounts raises concerns about the democratic credentials of Indian polity. - File photo



THE controversy over the freezing of the Congress’ bank accounts raises concerns about the democratic credentials of Indian polity. Accusations of manipulation levelled by former party chief Sonia Gandhi against the government point towards a bid to financially cripple the principal Opposition party ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. The Income Tax

(I-T) Department’s move — under which three-decade-old ‘tax lapses’ of the Congress have also been raked up — undermines the notion of a level electoral playing field. Denying the Congress access to its funds at this time can disrupt the party’s ability to undertake electoral campaigns, thereby jeopardising the democratic process itself. The I-T Department’s action paints a troubling picture of pre-poll harassment.

This disconcerting development comes amid the disclosure of details of electoral bonds by the SBI following a Supreme Court order. Apprehensions about the integrity of political funding have been exacerbated by the glaring disparity: the share of money from the bonds received by the BJP amounts to over 50 per cent. It is clear that the BJP, which received 38 per cent of the vote share in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, enjoys a significant edge in electoral funding. The Congress, whose vote share was around 20 per cent, has been particularly impacted.

The rules that safeguard the rights of all political actors to engage in the electoral process freely and fairly must be strengthened. Attempts to weaken the ability of Opposition parties to fight effectively must be thwarted by addressing the issues of equity in political financing and fair competition.

#Congress #Lok Sabha #Sonia Gandhi


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